by Douglas K. Shively, PE, ICC

Lighting currently accounts for approximately 14 percent of electricity used in buildings in the United States.  In 2007, then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence Act of 2007, with the purpose of reducing energy consumption and our dependence on foreign energy sources.

In response, the United States Department of Energy is adopting new lighting efficiency regulations, beginning in 2012, to attempt to reduce lighting consumption.  Industrial, commercial, and residential consumers will be impacted.

The incandescent lamp is by far the most inefficient lamp available.  An incandescent lamp emits visible light as a result of heating a metal filament inside the lamp.  Only 10% of the electricity used by a conventional incandescent lamp is actually used to provide light.  The other 90% becomes heat.  This is why the lamp is hot to the touch.

The new regulations do not ban incandescent lamps beginning in 2012, but rather require newly manufactured incandescent lamps to be approximately 25% more efficient.  The increased efficiency will be achieved by using halogen gas in the making of the lamp.

The more efficient lamps are termed halogen incandescent.  Iodine or bromine gases are used with a tungsten filament to produce bright light at high temperatures.  Introducing gas halogens into an incandescent lamp results in the lamp using less energy to emit the same light as the standard incandescent lamp.  The amount of electricity a lamp uses is measured in watts.  Brightness, or the amount of visible light perceived by the human eye, is measured in lumens.

So what are the changes, which incandescent lamps are affected, and when are the changes required to take place?  As previously mentioned, rather than banning incandescent lamps, the new regulations limit the amount of energy lamps can use to produce a certain amount of light.

The table below summarizes the incandescent lamps affected by the new regulations and the phase-in date requiring the lamps to achieve similar lumen output at approximately 25% less energy.  As an example, a conventional 100 watt incandescent lamp produces about 1600 lumens.  Under the new standards, the equivalent of this lamp is required to use no more than 72 watts to produce a light output of approximately 1600 lumens.

Incandescent Lamp Type *                 Phase-In Date                         Lumen Output

100 Watt                                                   Jan. 1, 2012                                  1600

75 Watt                                                     Jan. 1, 2013                                  1100

60 Watt                                                    Jan. 1, 2014                                   800

40 Watt                                                   Jan. 1, 2014                                   450

* Incandescent lamps excluded from the Department of Energy efficiency regulations include 150 watt lamps, three-way type, shatter-resistant type, rough-service type, insect lamps, colored lamps, plant lights, appliance bulbs, and candelabra-base bulbs with narrow screw-in bases used in chandeliers and electric window candles.

Several options exist for replacing standard incandescent lamps with energy efficient types that comply with the new regulations.  For example, compact fluorescent (CFL), light emitting diode (LED), and halogen incandescent (Halogena Energy Saver) are all options to consider as energy-saving replacements.  Factors to consider in choosing the best solution for a given application include initial cost, lumen output, lamp life, energy consumption, lamp color rendering properties, dimming capabilities, time until full brightness, frequency of on/off cycling, and mercury content.

Questions?  Contact Doug Shively at [email protected].


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